Words & Sinew

Semi-occasional reader & blogger who just really loves Rob Kazinsky. My playstation is basically my child.

Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler *Slight Spoilers*There's a blurb on the cover from author Jo Knowles which says, "Breaks your heart and puts it back together again." And honestly, I couldn't agree more. Sarah Ockler immediately sets up for the perfect life. Anna Riley. Frankie and Matt Perino. Neighboring childhood best friends, until it all changes when Anna and Matt fall for each other and start a secret relationship the day of Anna's 15th birthday. But everything just completely shatters one day and Anna is just left with the remaining pieces of her secret relationship with Matt that Frankie has no idea about and the lingering "what if's?" of what would've been their future. When that all just happened, I literally had to just take a moment and breathe. One minute I'm reading about this perfect friendship and seeing this beautiful relationship flower naturally before and then bam. All gone. Nothing left but shattered hearts, suppressed secrets, and broken butterfly wings. Sarah Ockler has this way of just completely immersing you into this life she's created within these pages. One minute reality, the next you just go under, struggling to breathe because there's just so much heartbreak and struggle for these true-to-life characters you end up relating to one way or another. Not only that, she creates this almost secret language with her words. The imagery, metaphors, and similes she uses are so much deeper because of the connection she makes to the character or story with them. It would hard for anyone who didn't fully go along this journey to understand the deep impact those specific words have.Anna is an immensely strong character. After Matt's death, she has so many things to hold up. Her broken best friend Frankie, the guilt of her secret relationship with Matt, her own grief. How she manages to pull herself up in the morning and do all those things, all day long, without letting in a secret person to all her pain (other than her journal) amazes me. A lot of her guilt and grief definitely overshadows her character at times though, but that's the point. She's went so long with having to carrying all of this it's become who she is. She never fully dealt with Matt's death but at the same time, the day he died, he took a lot of her with him. As you go along with Anna on this journey, you become proud of the person she transforms into. Of finally getting rid of her burdens, or at least letting other people help her carry them. It's a proud thing. As usual, Sarah Ockler is a rockstar when it comes to giving fully developed characters. Nearly every person is full of life and have their own journeys to get through which you get to see happens through Anna's eyes as well. Summer is a powerful thing. It's the time when you can retreat into this cocoon and come out at the end a completely new person -- a butterfly. 20 Boy Summer displays the transforming powers of summer and how just a few days away from reality can make you see so much more. The reason why I had to dock half-a-star though was because at times I felt a lull. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over at times. Anna is guilty about Matt. Anna is worried about Frankie. Anna thinks Sam is stellar kisser. It just felt like the same things repeated over and over with no serious progress that made me want to skip around a bit. Despite all these words, they still don't manage to sum the book quite as well as Jo Knowles did. "Breaks your heart and puts it back together again." The cover is a terrific illustration to this while also making an illusion to an important piece of symbolism within the book. Favorite Quotes: "My eyes were closed and his mouth tasted like marzipan flowers and clove cigarettes, and in ten seconds the whole of my life was wrapped up in that one kiss, that one wish, that one secret that would forever divide my life into two parts. Up, down. Happy, sad. Shock, awe. Before, after.""When someone you love dies, people ask you how you're doing, but they don't really want to know. They seek affirmation that you're okay, that you appreciate their concern, that life goes on and so can they.""When it happens, you're totally unprepared, fragmented and lost, looking for the hidden meaning in every little thing. I've replayed the vents of that day a hundred thousand times, looking for clues, An alternate ending. The butterfly effect." "I pull open the glass door and walk to the middle of the sore, letting the smell of old books soak into my lungs. It's different than I expect; it feels more like a library than a store, and I can totally picture Matt hanging out here. He loved to read. He loved words, the way they string together into sentences and stories. He wanted to study them, to know and create them, to share them with the world." "Yea, I've heard that before. There are all kinds of sayings like that around here. But sometimes you gotta just take things for what they are and appreciate them, not try to label it or explain it. Explanations take the mystery out of it, you know?""It's just us and the music, the universal language of love hope and loss and everything else.""Don't move, Anna Reily," he says. "Right now, everything is perfect."